Ilha de Tavira – the complete guide
Ilha de Tavira (translated as Tavira Island) is a tropical island near the town of Tavira. It is part of the natural park of Ria Formosa. Ilha de Tavira is famous for its beautiful white sand beach, which is considered to be one of the best beaches of the Algarve.
Watch it in HD
Watch the short video below and get ready to pack your bags.
In fact, there are three different beaches on the island:
- Praia da Ilha de Tavira (in the east). This is the main beach.
- Praia da Terra Estreita (in the center). This is a quiet beach, with fewer infrastructure.
- Praia do Barril (in the west). Famous for its anchor cemetery and an old tuna factory.
In this article we will focus on the main beach, Praia da Ilha de Tavira. This is the beach you arrive on when you take the boat to this island.
Ilha de Tavira stretches for about 11 kilometres and is quite wide, between 150 metres and 1 kilometre. The sand stretches as far as the eye can see. The beach is very sandy and has a white colour. The sand is soft and perfect for kids to make sandcastles. Moreover, the beach is very clean. The sea water is calm, clean and crystal clear, which is ideal for families with children. However, the water is very cold, even in the peak of summer.
The beach of Ilha de Tavira is backed by sand dunes. This makes it very different from the cliff backed beaches that you can find in other parts of the Algarve. But one thing is for sure: this is one of the best beaches that you will find in the Algarve.
The beach on Ilha de Tavira is very popular among families with children. Many Portuguese families love to spend their summer holidays here. The beach is also popular with tourists. The beach on Ilha de Tavira is the closest beach to the town of Tavira. Thus it can get pretty busy during the high season. However, the beach is huge and there is always a spot for everyone.
Tavira Island is perfect for a day trip. It is possible to rent lounge chairs and parasols for about € 15 a day. Make sure to either rent a parasol or bring your own, since the sun can be very strong. In the summer, the beach is also supervised by lifeguards. Although there are restaurants on the island, many people take cool boxes and snacks with them, because they know they will spend the full day on the beach. Also, several water sports can be enjoyed on this beach, like jet ski or the banana boat.
If you would like to experience Ilha de Tavira from the comfort of your home, it is possible to see how Tavira Island looks right now on webcam.
Most of the people that go to Tavira Island, stay on the same part of the beach. However, if you are willing to walk a bit, the beach will get more and more deserted. If you walk for about 10 minutes, you are probably almost alone on the beach.
Ilha de Tavira is perfect for a long beach walk. If you walk far enough, you will arrive at the nudist area. This part of Ilha de Tavira is one of the best nude beaches in the Algarve. It is even possible to walk from the main beach until Praia do Barril (about 40 minutes walking).
Travelling to the Algarve this year? Dont’ forget to bring the Marco Polo Travel Guide.
Ilha de Tavira is one of the sandy islands separating the Atlantic Ocean from the natural park of Ria Formosa. Since Tavira Island is part of the Ria Formosa natural park, you will be able to see flamingos and many different kinds of birds. Ria Formosa is one of the best areas in the Algarve for birdwatching. You can see the wildlife on your way by boat to Tavira Island or in the dunes and pine forests of the island itself.
The following video shows you more of the beautiful surroundings of Tavira Island.
How to get there
There are three main options to reach Ilha de Tavira:
- By boat (ferry) from the centre of Tavira (Rua Jose Pires Padinha). Boats leave regularly, at least one boat per hour. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs around € 2 for a round trip. During this boat trip you will see the beautiful natural park of Ria Formosa. This service runs only from June until September.
- By boat (ferry) or water taxi from Quatro Águas, which is about 2 kilometres from Tavira. It is quite easy to park your car there. The journey takes about 10 minutes. The ferry costs around € 2 for a round trip, while a water taxi costs up to € 20 for a single trip (up to 6 people). The ferry service runs all year.
- By going to Pedras d’el Rei in Santa Luzia. You can leave your car there. From here, you can walk on a floating bridge over the Ria Formosa. On the other side of the bridge, you can take a train (only during high season) or walk to Praia do Barril. Praia do Barril is part of Ilha de Tavira, and you can walk to the east to get to the main beach of Tavira Island. This option involves a lot of walking.
Arrival and departure
When you arrive on the island, you will have to walk a couple of minutes through a small pine forest. After 400 metres you will find yourself on the beach. This part of the beach can be quite crowded, especially in the summer.
Since you are dependent on a ferry to get back to the mainland, don’t forget to check the timetable of the return ferry. You wouldn’t be the first person to miss the last ferry boat. Although you can always take a private water taxi to leave the island, this is more expensive. During the summer, the last ferry leaves Tavira Island around 8 pm. Be aware that at the end of the afternoon, most people will leave all at the same time. This usually results in queues for the ferry at the end of the afternoon. However, the ferry can take a lot of people, so chances are you will still be able to get on board.
There are several restaurants on Ilha de Tavira. The specialty of restaurants on the island is seafood, but of course there are other options as well. Our favourite restaurants on the island are:
- Pavilhão da Ilha. This is one of the best restaurants on Ilha de Tavira. They have a great variety of fresh and quality food. Prices are reasonable.
- Sunshine Bar. This beach bar has a great location, very close to the beach. Nice place to have a drink. The service is great and the restaurant provides good value for money.
- Sal. The food in this restaurant is good, the atmosphere is nice and the staff is friendly. Great place to have lunch.
For those who want to spend the night on the island, there is a camping. The camping is open from May until September. There are no hotels on the island. If camping is not your thing, the best option is to stay in a hotel on the mainland. Our favourite hotels in the area are:
- Vila Gale Tavira. This popular hotel in Tavira has several wellness facilities, including a fitness centre and a jacuzzi. They also provide several outdoor activities. They have a big terrace outside, surrounding the swimming pool. Great breakfast by the way.
- Residencial Mares. This guest house in the centre of Tavira has very clean and comfortable rooms. The staff of the guest house is very friendly, and prices are not too expensive.
- Vila Gale Albacora. This 4 star hotel is located near Quatro Águas, where you can take a water taxi to Tavira Island. The hotel is located in a quiet location, near the Ria Formosa. The staff makes you feel very welcome.
After the busy summer season of last year, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels in Tavira. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
When you are in the Tavira area, Ilha de Tavira is the perfect day trip. However, there are also other great excursions in the area. These excursions will show you another side of the Algarve. You can explore the town of Tavira or the many picturesque small villages nearby. Or what about an olive oil tour? You can see our recommended tours below.
Ilha de Tavira – Facilities
There are quite a few facilities on Ilha de Tavira. You will find a supermarket, beach shops, restaurants, bars and ATM’s.
Facilities in Ilha de Tavira:
- Restaurant: yes
- Bar/club: yes
- Toilet: yes
- Shower: yes
- Water sports: yes
- Sunbeds: yes
- Parking: no
- Lifeguards: yes
- Blue flag beach: yes